The total number of bisexual female characters on TV since 1983, over the course of 33 years, represents 0.5% of heterosexual characters in one year. With a desire to paint a clearer picture of exactly how female bisexuality is treated on television, we have embarked on a project to create a database that will provide insight into both the quality and quantity of female bisexual representation, as well as identifying the common tropes that go along with it.
List of all lesbian and bisexual female characters featured on scripted broadcast TV in the 2015-2016 season. Of the 1936 main/recurring characters, only 34 of were lesbian/bisexual women – our rate of representation is 1.75%, and 13 (38%) of those are dead at the end of the season.
While not the deadliest network, the lesbian/bi characters killed on The CW this season had arguably the most impact on the fan community. The CW featured 11 lesbian/bisexual female characters, 8 of which had main/recurring roles, out of 298 main/recurring total characters. 5 of them are dead at the end of the season.
On the 18 scripted TV shows that aired on FOX, lesbian/bisexual women account for 3.3% of main/recurring characters (274 total characters, a number much lower than on other networks), and, according to Vox, 10.7% of all deaths. They are still killed at a rate 3 times higher than their appearance rate.
ABC featured fifteen lesbian or bisexual characters, nine of which had main or recurring roles. Compared to the 559 total main or recurring characters on ABC, that means that lesbian or bisexual women make up 1.6% of characters, and 9.7% of all deaths on the network.
Only 3 of the 26 scripted TV shows that aired this season on CBS featured lesbian/bisexual female characters. A total of only 5 characters, and 3 are now dead (that’s 60% dead, which beats the 50% death rate on NBC). Except for Person of Interest, where the lesbian character dies and becomes the voice of an AI (an “evolutionary step” of the Dead Lesbian Trope), none of them had significant storylines (although both Under the Dome and Code Black add to the kill count).
Out of 21 scripted TV shows that aired in the 2015-2016 season on NBC, and 342 main or recurring characters, only two shows featured a total of 4 lesbian/bisexual female characters. If the world mirrored NBC, lesbian and bisexual women would represent less than 0.6% of the population. Two of the four are dead at the end of the season. 0 regular or recurring lesbian/bisexual characters are left at the end of the season.